The Arafura and Timor Seas Ecosystem Action Phase II (ATSEA-2) Project in Papua New Guinea (PNG) is actively working towards integrating its environmental program into the national policy. The project team is currently drafting a policy proposal for the National Executive Council with the goal of formally recognising the ATSEA-2 Project as part of PNG’s national government policy. This proposal aims to ensure the implementation of the ATSEA Strategic Action Programme (SAP) and the PNG National Action Programme (NAP) by relevant government agencies. It also seeks to secure national financial support for the Regional Governance Mechanism (RGM), thereby bolstering regional environmental management.

The ATSEA-2 Project has been instrumental in fostering collaboration among countries adjacent to the Arafura and Timor Seas (ATS), addressing transboundary environmental and fisheries issues. This initiative has facilitated significant achievements in information exchange and capacity building, enriching both regional and national conservation efforts.

Despite the project’s conclusion set for the end of 2024, its positive impact highlights the necessity of continued cooperation. In response, the SAP and NAP have been developed to perpetuate the accomplishments of the ATSEA-2 Project and maintain long-term collaboration through the RGM. Integrating these programs into national policies is essential for their success and requires each participating country to align with their own policy-making and implementation processes.

Strategic Action Programme (SAP) and National Action Programme (NAP) mainstreaming workshop with relevant state agencies in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

A key workshop in Port Moresby on 5 February 2024, convened state agency representatives to discuss aligning their programs with the SAP and NAP. The workshop emphasised the need for a policy endorsement from the National Executive Council, which would mandate state agencies to include SAP and NAP initiatives in their strategic planning and budgeting processes.

In preparation, the ATSEA-2 Project team in PNG is diligently reviewing the policy submission with legal advisors and the National Fisheries Authority. This review process is identifying the necessary steps and stakeholders involved in the policy approval process. The submission will include the endorsed SAP, NAP, and RGM documents, underscoring their critical role in environmental governance. Anticipating governmental delays, the project team is initiating this process promptly to ensure timely implementation.

The ATSEA-2 Project marks a significant effort to enhance regional environmental governance and collaboration across the ATS region. By embedding this initiative within national policies, it aims to sustain its environmental impact and promote a healthier marine ecosystem for future generations.

By Kenneth Yhuanje